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Miki (Left) and Doan (Right) in traditional dress at Homecoming.
Growing up with being a good student as my goal, upholding tradition has always been a big part of my life. What I mean is that everything I did was approved by discipline. When somebody talked about me, most of the time the first thing he or she would say was: “Ah, I know Doan, she is a good student”. And that was perfectly fine to me until one day that compliment bored me. I realized that I wanted to be remembered by other abilities in addition to “being a good student”. Therefore, I decided to go out there to get involved in activities with clubs and my friends, develop and challenge my leadership, participate in campus-wide events, and be an active cultural ambassador who share and learn among different cultures. Although I loved getting involved in school activities, the context in High school did not allow me to have as many opportunities as here in Maryville College.
     One of the early achievements I have made was that some of my friends here currently understand more about Vietnamese customs, and they recognize when people talk about Asia, it is not necessary that they talk about China. One other thing that made me happy was that one friend of mine actually did a short interview with me as the International Senator in SGA for her project in class. It is still the beginning of my process to try to get out of the box of being just a good student, but I am grateful for the experiences I have been gaining in Maryville College to become a better version of myself.

 
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Well, at the age of 19, being a college student with a dream of future which will be full of independence, pride, money and respect from other people, I chose Business Management as my main major in Maryville College. My parents agreed. My friends supported. And I, myself, was convinced completely by the widely-opened gate after graduation. I mean, with Business Management major, you can involve in whatever you can think about at this very moment. What if you are a manager in one famous fashion company, what will help you know when to hang a “Sale” board with a suitable price so your ladies can become crazy because of that more-value-than-gold word and help you take care of summer clothes which they don’t even need and surely become old-fashioned next year? Or maybe, you are a housewife who is drown in a bunch of evil bills and complaining: “They said I was their valuable customer, now they sent me hate mails!!!” Which way can help you manage your income and outcome successfully so that you do not have to be your own servants’ victim? Or just pretend you are an international thief who secretly stole millions dollar from thousands company. Which way can help you be welcome even when you walk into your victims’ companies like a boss without any doubt from them? The answer is Business Management. And your brain, of course! That is why I chose it. And I was happy with it! I remembered the day I went to my advisor’s room. We set the schedule for my very first semester in MC together. I had to put a lot of required classes which I had not heard about before I came to that room. It was a fun process. My advisor, Ms. Summar West, was a really helpful and kind person.

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By Minh Hoang
When we moved to Fine Art 140 course, which is required for every student on campus except Art major, I was confused between pottery class and drawing class. I used to draw a lot when I was a really young boy. Realized that I had an interest in drawing, my parents sent me to one artist. He was a great artist but was not a suitable teacher for me. I lost my hobby because of strict rules which limit a very young child’s imagination. I stopped drawing 7 years ago. Seeing drawing class I like facing something old that you used to know, you forgot and now it suddenly appears in front of your face, on your advisor’s computer screen. It was a confusing feeling that I had not tasted for a long time. At that very moment, I did not really remember why I chose drawing class. But it does not matter because more than just a simple decision when you blink you eyes, it was a huge decision that changed my life forever. Dr. Gombert, who I’d love to call “Dr. Crazy” and always want to touch his bald head after he shaved his hair because of losing a competition with his daughter, changed the way I was taught about drawing. He taught me that I can draw by whatever I have in my hand and my imagination can’t be detained by rules and limits. The most important thing was he made me realize that I had never lost my hobby. All I need to do is just holding pencils in my hands and changing the whole world. I’ve found the part of me which I had forgotten for a long time. And I knew, this is the real me. This is what I need to do to recall who I am, to complete me and to state my true dream. For some reasons, people may call me crazy because for international student, changing majors is a risky decision. But somehow, in my mind, something told me that I was right. People choose majors and then their suitable schools. My school chose me and its people helped me realize my real track which I was and am supposed to keep, to follow and to live.

- Minh Hoang -
- Double majors: Design and Psychology -

 
It’s been four years now since I put all my eggs into the MC basket, and, while that time has vanished in a heartbeat, I simply could not conceive myself being anywhere else anymore.
John Robertson, our resident student from Scotland, is blogging about his life at MC. Check it out at http://gomaryville.com/meet-john-robertson/
 
The United States of America is considered the country that respects the liberty of people. People respect each other's individualism and accept many different ideas, cultures, and people. I think the idea of liberty and freedom American people have is more developed than them Japanese people have. The most impressive and surprising thing I experienced in the U.S. related to liberty and freedom is the different criteria for drunk driving between Japan and the U.S. While in Japan people are never allowed to drive a car if they drink even a cup of alcohol. In the United State, people are allowed to drive unless their blood alcohol level exceed limit number each state set. I think American people take more responsibility than Japanese people take in daily life instead of more freedom. In the U.S, people are allowed to drink some alcohol before they drive. However, it is their responsibility to think, by themselves, about how much alcohol will prevent them from driving safely. I think the punishment for drunk driving is harsher in the U.S. than Japan. Besides this difference in drunk driving, I can see several things that show this developed idea about liberty and responsibility American people have in daily life. I really respect the idea of liberty and responsibility in the United State of America and I think Japan should follow the U.S. in this part.
 
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Hello everyone! I am a new face here on the CIE blog. My name is Fanny Stray and I’m from Sweden. I applied for Maryville College last winter and during this spring. I’m only going to stay here for one semester, so I’m going to enjoy this time as much as possible.           

Here, in Maryville, my major is International Business but back home in Sweden my major is Informationdesign. It’s basically how to make information more approachable for your specific target group in Public Relations. Quite different from International Business, don’t you think? I just wanted to study something different while being in America.       

It has been one month and three weeks since I arrived to campus, and it feels like I’ve been living here for much, much longer. There was so much to do here the few weeks before the school officially started and now there’s even more to do with classes and homework! However, that is not what I’m going to talk about in this post. I want to tell you how my trip here to Maryville was, or at least what I can remember from it.           

I left my family by the gate in Stockholm Arlanda in Sweden around 7am. My plane was leaving around 9 am, but they always want you to check in early if problems arise. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I let some tears appear when I said goodbye to my mother, father and younger sister; but that is long forgotten now.            

My first flight was eight hours, from Stockholm to New York. New Ark airport is definitely one of the biggest airports I’ve ever been to. You went from different gates with train! How ridiculous is that? My second flight from New York to Washington D.C. got belated due to bad weather, but after two hours of wait I could finally board the flight to the capital of the United States of America.             From Washington I took a flight for McGhee Tyson airport and I landed in Tennessee around midnight. I was a day too early for the International House to bring me to Maryville College, but sliding down into the hotel bed in Jameson Inn has never felt better. When I arrived at Maryville College at noon the next day I got welcomed by Kirsten Sheppard and since then everything has run smoothly around me.            

So that’s me, a new one. I’m a Swedish exchange student, here in Maryville College, for one semester and life has never been more perfect.

 
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Racial discrimination – the first thing came up in my mind when I determined to study abroad in America. It is a stereotyped knowledge that Southern States including Tennessee are well-known to be racially discriminating. I used to perceive southern people as closed-minded, unwelcoming group of people. However, what I have seen and experienced in Maryville/Maryville College is the complete opposite. Welcoming, warm-hearted, courteous are the adjectives I think would well attach to people around Maryville. My friends, faculty, and staff are very understanding of my culture even though Maryville’s community is not as internationalized as other states in America. My roommate is an American, most of my friends are from America, but they never did and will discriminate me despite my race. I have taught them about my culture, my experience, my perspectives, and I believe that I have also helped my friends know about my country and culture more than they ever knew. I participated in GCO in order to get involved in even more of contribution to spread and let everybody on campus, even the city know about what I know about my culture, countries, and differences in American culture and Japanese culture. GCO helped me become more capable of being a “cultural ambassador” from Japan. GCO has given me opportunity to be more engaged with American culture. GCO became the best organization for me to be part of Maryville College. My first year here at Maryville College has become one of the best chances I ever had to be well educated, to get involved in other cultures, and to befriend diverse people. I appreciate the opportunity MC has given me. Racial discrimination – the first thing came up in my mind when I determined to study abroad in America. It is a stereotyped knowledge that Southern States including Tennessee are well-known to be racially discriminating. I used to perceive southern people as closed-minded, unwelcoming group of people. However, what I have seen and experienced in Maryville/Maryville College is the complete opposite. Welcoming, warm-hearted, courteous are the adjectives I think would well attach to people around Maryville. My friends, faculty, and staff are very understanding of my culture even though Maryville’s community is not as internationalized as other states in America. My roommate is an American, most of my friends are from America, but they never did and will discriminate me despite my race. I have thought them about my culture, my experience, my perspectives, and I believe that I have also helped my friends know about my country and culture more than they ever knew. I participated in GCO in order to get involved in even more of contribution to spread and let everybody on campus, even the city know about what I know about my culture, countries, and differences in American culture and Japanese culture. GCO helped me become more capable of being a “cultural ambassador” from Japan. GCO has given me opportunity to be more engaged with American culture. GCO became the best organization for me to be part of Maryville College. My first year here at Maryville College has become one of the best chances I ever had to be well educated, to get involved in other cultures, and to befriend diverse people. I appreciate the opportunity MC has given me. 

 
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The first time I went to the Beijing International Airport and said “Bye-bye” to my parents, I knew it was the time to start a new life. I turned around, and my tears dropped quietly. I cried not only because I was leaving but because I was afraid. I was afraid of my new life. I was going to the U.S, which was a totally different country. Before I graduated from high school, I had never been to any other country, so this was a big challenge for me. There were a lot of thoughts that crossed my mind when I went through Chinese Customs. I thought about my parents and the happiest time I spent with them in my life, my grandparents and the delicious foods they cooked for me, and my best friend and all of these times we spent together. All of those thoughts came across my mind at once. I was very upset during the first couple of weeks in the States, and I did not want to talk to anybody, even my roommate. I was always hiding in my dorm in Davis Hall, listening to sad songs and staring at my family photos. There was a photo that was taken during the spring at a farm where my parents and I went to visit my grandparents. In the picture, I was looking at the warm smile on my mom’s face; she was smiling about me and the kitten, which I had in my arms. My father and my grandpa were standing next to my mom; they were discussing how to build a new house for the youngest cat in my home. My grandma stood at the left corner of the photo; she looked at us, the people who stole her heart, quietly and peacefully. I looked at the photo like a puppet without a soul. I screamed in my heart that I wanted to go home. I talked with my family once a week and I always cried. My mom was extremely worried about me, and she tried so hard to persuade me to be happy, but being happy was just too hard for me.

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However, things turned out to be better in the second month when I made my first group of friends. They were very friendly to me and helped me any time when I needed them. I talked with them and told them my vexations; they enlightened me and shared their sad experiences with me also. Once, one of my friends talked with me about her studying experience in Venezuela. She told me that as an international student there, she was totally controlled by the government in Venezuela; the government also tried to deprive the U.S. citizenship from her because her grandma was a Venezuelan. I was totally shocked by her story, and I started to think about my own “terrible” life; I asked myself if my life was really that bad. Later on, I got the answer from my heart, which was “No.” So I started to blend into my college life, and I really enjoyed it. While with my friends, we did lots of fun things, like going to Dollywood. It was a warm Sunday, and we had a lot of fun on the way there. We played almost all of the games and rode all of the rides there. My favorite was the roller coaster because it made me think about my life. Those up-and-downs on the roller coaster were the same as all of the happy or sad moments in my life. So if I could enjoy the roller coaster, why could not I enjoy my life changing? I laughed all the way when we came back to campus from Dollywood, and my friends said they have never seen me this happy. Meanwhile, my mother noticed me changing. She knew that I was happier than I was when I first came. In addition, my English had improved a lot by having English conversations with my friends and classmates. I turned back to that happy girl again, just like when I was in China.

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Last summer I went back to China and everyone who saw me said that I seemed different; I seemed more confident than before, and I was not that shy and timid girl anymore. I was more confident because I opened my view in the States, and I learned how to express my feelings and thoughts; these things were what I could not learn from colleges in China. From my life experience, I think people need to open their views and minds to replenish their lives. They also need to try more things to enhance themselves; for example, I got the ability to express myself from my international studying experiences. No seed can grow-up to become a big tree without any sun and rain; sometimes an opening view or a fighting heart can be the key to a meaningful life. Overall, I am really proud of coming to the States and starting a new life here; otherwise, I would just have been a normal college student in China and have learned nothing new from my life.

 
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"Maybe you have seen me in Pearsons, eating with my roommates, I’m the Spanish guy, the Mexican guy if you want (this joke is getting old) maybe you haven’t heard about me, maybe you have seen me running at midnight, yeah, I’m that guy... maybe you thought I’m just another creepy international student... maybe you didn’t even know that I’m an international student, maybe you have seen me in the gym, or playing basketball in the parking lot, or maybe over another plate full of Pearson's chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and fried okra (welcome to the south). Maybe you have talked with me and noticed my weird accent... maybe it doesn't sound like the other Spanish guys you know, maybe you have never met a Spanish guy before, maybe you think we don’t have anything in common, but... maybe you just have heard something I said and just laughed with my broken English, but now, you know that I exist... and, if we are lucky, we can even be friends.

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Maybe you have seen this huge guy wearing MC sweatpants, Nikes and a hoody... maybe you have seen him with his headphones, listening the most random music, or maybe the only thing you know about him is that he made the George's portrait in Pearsons... but this guy is me. I wont be here next year, I haven’t been here for so long, but I’m proud of been here, I don’t know if you know me, but, if you read this, or if you see me running in the dark, or working in the lab in Sutton, you will know that I’m part of this place, a really small part of this big family that I found in the Maryville college. "